A well-known Salvation Army worker and pillar of the community has won the latest Maltings Community Hero Award.
Christine Woods, 67, has helped people in need for more than 25 years, by giving them clothes, food, a safe place to sleep, and being a friendly face for destitute people.
She is the community manager at the Hemel Hempstead Salvation Army, running the coffee shop, clothes store, and shower facilities on a daily basis, as well as giving advice to those in need.
Up to about 50 people come into the church every day to get help – she described the patrons as having slipped through the system: homeless, just out of prison, addicted, or on the poverty line.
Duties are varied, and include helping people who struggle with literacy to fill out bus pass or job applications.
At Christmas time she organises the annual 50 food parcels, 200 children’s gifts, and the Christmas Day festive lunch.
The person who put her up for the award, Hemel Hempstead Salvation Army corps officer, Marie Burr, described Christine as an “unsung hero” who “deserves recognition”.
Christine said she was pleased to get the award: “It’s my job and I am getting an award for what I love doing, but it’s nice to get recognition of course.
“Sometimes there are people who we just give a bit of guidance if they are a bit down – I point them in whichever direction they need. You do it all the time and don’t think about it, it’s little things.
“It’s nice, I get to know some of the regulars and they come from horrendous backgrounds, so you really do try to help them.”
Christine’s daughter, Imogen Withall, said she is proud her mum is so interwoven in the community: “She has been doing it for most of my life, I have grown up with it so I am used to walking around Hemel Hempstead and someone always seeing her and giving her a wave to say hello.”
As winner this month, Christine will receive £100 to spend in any of The Maltings shops and is entered into an finalists competition which will take place in September.
The next winner will be announced in May.